A while back, World Trust received an email from Madeleine Trichel, a volunteer facilitator working with the Horizon Prison Initiative at the Marion Correctional Institute. She wanted to let us know that she was using our diversity film, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, to get prisoners in the program talking about white privilege, unconscious bias, and their experience with systemic racism.
We are always on the lookout for diversity activities taking place in local communities across the country. We recently learned about a diversity initiative in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a predominately white bedroom community north of Boston, that included a screening of the World Trust diversity video, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible.
Curious to hear how that conversation went, we contacted Reverend Wendy von Zirpolo, the event organizer.
A World Trust donor recently sent us link to an article entitled "7 Things I Can Do That My Black Son Can't." The author, Calvin Hennick, is a white father of two bi-racial children. We appreciate his commentary, including this:
In my experience, white people (and straight people, and male people, and Christian people — all groups of which I’m a member) tend to dismiss the notion that we’re privileged. It’s an uncomfortable thing to acknowledge that you’re the recipient of unfair benefits, especially when those benefits are often nearly invisible to those who receive them. But when you’re a parent, those privileges stop being invisible. It’s the reason why male congressmen with daughters are more likely to support women’s issues. It’s the reason why Ohio Sen. Rob Portman suddenly declared his support for same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. And it’s the reason why, everywhere I look, I see hassles that my son will have to face that I don’t.
Hennick goes on to enumerate a list of things he can do "without hassle." For example, walk through a store without being followed, lose his temper in traffic, and complain about racism.
It IS possible -- and necessary -- for white people to engage others in authentic conversation about privilege. There are productive ways to go about it. These five steps we've shared before can be applied to the clip "Understanding White Privilege" from the World Trust film Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible.
Topics: Film: Mirrors of Privilege
An Unhelpful Pattern
After many years of doing cultural diversity workshops, we recognized an unhelpful pattern often emerged in the learning environment. In a typical workshop, people of color were asked to share their stories. The people of color in the session had a lot to say, their stories needed to be heard and understood. However, instead of listening to these experiences, white people often became overwhelmed by guilt, shame or denial. These reactions left the people of color vulnerable to judgment or rejection by the white participants. People of color often ended up being the source of ”the problem” without any real learning taking place. An unintended consequence, this pattern blocked healing and reinforced the fracture that racial misunderstanding causes all too frequently.
It was clear that to enable participants to move beyond historical and cultural understanding about race, that pattern needed to change and different tools were needed. We needed new resources to support a more effective dynamic of learning and healing between racial groups.
Topics: Film: Mirrors of Privilege
" Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible is a moving call, long-overdue, coming from the heart of white people working to restore their own humanity," said Van Jones, Founder of GreenForAll.org.